" Are Smart Meters Really That Smart?" who really benefits from smart metering?
On 3 October 2010 10:12, David Hirst .com <email@example.com> wrote:
Good information is a Good Thing. Nobody doubts that, for some people and organisations, improved information about their electricity (and even gas and water) consumption and its costs could provoke some behaviour change, or trigger energy saving investments. Indeed, current UK laws assume this is the case when it comes to buying potatoes, as current metes, if used in farmers markets, would provoke prosecute by the local trading standards people.
But is this believe enough to justify a ~£10 billion+ investment that will cost every consumer some £500. It is not just the cost of the meter, but the communications infrastructure, and the processing of unimaginably vast (and almost totally useless) information. Instead of 0, 1 or even 6 readings a quarter, the utilities will have to process perhaps 9000 readings, and perhaps even 130,000. Can you seriously believe that this will happen smoothly, or effectively? The IBMs and Ciscos of the world are slavering at the prospect of all that kit.
But for the vast majority of domestic consumers, a smart meter, and its attendant processing, will tell them very little that they do not already know. And is it reasonable that we should all have to pay so much just to educate the few who are too idle to understand?
There is a case for socialisation of some costs associated with utilities. That is, it is reasonable that high volume, better off, consumers should fund the public good of the network, and that more vulnerable people should have some concessions. But it is daft to assume that the VILEs (Vertically Integrated Large Energy) companies, all multi-national, and all driven solely by return to shareholders, will do this fairly. Indeed, they have repeatedly demonstrated that they will do the opposite – mis-selling, higher costs after switching, misleading statements about green tariffs, etc. All to the detriment of the vulnerable, to the benefit of the better off or stronger, mostly themselves. OFGEM has to treat them as selfish, greedy adolescents, regulating behaviour that, in individuals, would be considered anti-social and worthy of ASBOs.
In the case of so called smart meters, the benefits will arise from perhaps 20% of consumers – the 80:20 rule applies. SO the 80%, who can do little with the extra information, are worse off as a result. Yet they have no choice. It could be sensible to have a system that supported the 20% where the benefit can be obtained, but the underlying architecture of the system (as conceived by the VILEs) prevents this.
The key national need is for systems that will influence demand so that it varies with available renewable generation. Yet for demand to vary intelligently, the devices with flexibility need to plan. Dishwashers, a laundry machines, water heating, and battery cars, if they are to fulfil their purpose to their owners or users, all need to have a view of future prices, so that they can deliver their service at minimum energy cost. Yet is it far from clear that the systems installed will permit this. Indeed, it is not mentioned as a requirement. Instead there is a pious hope that “smart tariffs” will be enabled.
The key need is for dynamic flexibility in tariffs, so any view of future tariffs will have to be able to change. The underlying reason for this is that wind forecasts for 24 hours ahead are less reliable than those of 4 hours ahead, so as forecasts become more precise, forecasts of electricity prices will need to change.
Yet there is nothing requiring this in the prospectus. This does not preclude the possibility of the system being capable, but we would have to be very lucky. Indeed, since the VILEs would undoubtedly rather build further low utilisation, capacity subsidised gas fired power stations than encourage demand flexibility, we would have to be very lucky indeed.
The information presented to consumers is forced, by OFGEM dictat, to be misleading. The substantial proportion of electricity and water costs associated with the DNOs, the cables and things provided under local monopoly, have to be bundled with the tariff as a whole. Your tariff has to find various ways to allocate these costs. To the per kWh charge: to a standing charge; to a block consumption charge, or whatever. Changing suppliers will not change the charge, although it may change the nature of the allocation in minor ways.
So the per kWh costs, which is all the smart meter can reasonably show, are made up by all sorts of invisible allocation rules, and so almost meaningless. Just as the cost per kWh of a gas or nuclear power station is grossly simplistic, so too is the information a smart meter can present.
Whether the meters are smart or not is perhaps a moot point. Nobody doubts that they will have computers inside them. But whether these computers will be serving anything but the interest of the VILEs, through whom they will be paid for, is distinctly moot. After 2008, can you still really believe that investor greed is really the best driver for the well being of society. Can you really believe that OFGEM understands what it is doing? Can you trust the VILEs to implement the programme fairly?
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From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Colin Boughton-Smith
Sent: 01 October 2010 15:35
To: firstname.lastname@example.org; Annabel Andrews
Subject: RE: Are Smart Meters Really That Smart?
All we just installed multiutility AMR at three UK sites for one industrial customer.
This is the text of an email I received on Monday from their Environment Protection Manager !
We have had DYNAMAT on our water supply for two weeks and have made changes to reduce our water by 50% – yes it is 50%. Without DYNAMAT we would not have been able to see how much water we consume on a daily basis. With DYNAMAT we can not only see how much we are using but almost instantly see how much we are saving. Effectively the ability to see our water use has resulted in savings that cover 40% of the cost of installing DYNAMAT. If you need to start another war so be it – but it is time the Government showed that they were serious about energy and water saving. In my opinion DYNAMAT has given us the ability to save water and adequately meets the requirements for inclusion in the WTL.
Water consumption savings as a result of AMR/aM&T is often a low hanging fruit issues. We have thousands of examples of energy saving – for a flavour see our WEB site, Case Histories, local authorities, Leicester City Council
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From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of dave andrews
Sent: 01 October 2010 15:21
To: email@example.com; Annabel Andrews
Subject: Re: Are Smart Meters Really That Smart?
David Mcg – I invite you to make that case then – compare it to load switching using say the existing methods such as Radio 4 sub carrier or ripple control to either turn of high load circuit’s of smart plugs – got to be more cost effective than #200 / meter surely?
Of course we the consumer will pay in the end – nothing wrong with that, but I object to being forced to pay to shift the profitability in favour of the incumbents which this surely will. – they get a lot of benefits for this, which should come to us – for example de risking the business which their shareholders should pay for not us.
On 1 October 2010 15:53, Dave McG <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I can make a very sound case for smart meters if
* They are considered in isolation
* The logic is purely technical grid management and to adjust behavioural demand patterns to help the grid
* We assume our assumptions will hold up, i.e. the desired behaviours will occur
* The utilities will not abuse their position
I do not trust the utilities not to abuse their position, rail has shown just how abusive they can be
Peoples behaviour will change for a short term and revert to form
Against other opportunities well where to start? So I am torn they could and ought to be good but I remain unconvinced as they may be touted as the solution negating other equally valid measures
Regardless which pot the costs comes out of WE the consumers will pay every penny for these meters and everything else.
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From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On Behalf Of Nick Balmer
Sent: 01 October 2010 14:13
Subject: Re: Are Smart Meters Really That Smart?
The article says
“Even discounting the hyperbole, the decision to put smart meters into
all 24 million UK households between 2012 and 2020 is a monumental
one.?This is not least because of the enormous amount of capital
expenditure it entails for the retail arms of energy companies –
several multiples larger than anything undertaken for a generation. In
many ways, it is more of a telecoms and IT project than a utility one.
Different gross expenditure totals have been mooted.?It was originally
£5 billion but has since grown to £10 billion. Even £14 billion has
been bandied about.?I suspect nobody knows.”
I am not an expert on Smart metres but a price comparison site has
some for sale at £42 each.
I have just had an electrician in my house changing some much large
switch boxes and a water pump. It took him all of two hours.
So assuming 24 million at say £100 each gets to £2.4 billion.
The work of installing these meters should be taken away from the
energy companies and given to construction companies if they are so
inefficient as to need 2, 4 or 6 times the amount it would really
I bet if I could order 200 to 500k metres I would get a price below £42 each.
Or does the alarmist figures above really have more to do with the
fact that these same energy companies not fear the fact that faced
with an 8% fall in demand, and possibly as much again, demand might
actually be falling for the foreseeable future, rather than rising.
If we can actually understand how and where we are spending our money
on electricity we might be more careful with it.
These big monolitic energy companies need opening up to competition.
We need to let people know how to avoid having to pay these
In much of rural Britain family household income has fallen to £23k per year.
It is likely to fall still further. A good graduate in China gets
about £7k a year.
It is quite possible to bring down household energy use by 10 or more
% for very small relative figures. It is possible to get some houses
down by 40%.
These changes will profoundly affect the economics of new power
stations. They challenge many vested interests.
This is why we are seeing article after article coming out full of
these sorts of alarmist nonsense.
On Thu, Sep 30, 2010 at 1:53 PM, Annabel Andrews
> Hi everyone,
> This conversation looks great – if any of you would like to share your
> comments with the world outside claverton, you can do so in the box at the
> bottom of Andrew’s story, here:
> Annabel Andrews
> Community Editor, Utility Week
> 0208 651 7097
> DON’T FORGET
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> Achievement Awards
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> From: email@example.com
> [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of jo abbess
> Sent: 30 September 2010 13:12
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: RE: Are Smart Meters Really That Smart?
> Dear Claverton,
> I hate being cynical, but my answer to the question “Are Smart Meters Really
> That Smart ?” is “No. But they will provide some large contracts for some
> software consultancies.”
> After one of the recent conferences in London, where some Government people
> were speaking about various carbon initiatives, I earwigged a conversation
> between some IT people who were effectively negotiating how to carve up some
> potentially forthcoming funds for smart metering.
> I’m not going to say who/where/when, so don’t ask.
> It’s possibly a case of same “insider dealing”, different political flavour,
> I’m afraid.
> I’m not against good people taking on important contracts, but this smart
> meter thing just seems like a bandwagon.
> +44 77 17 22 13 96
> Date: Thu, 30 Sep 2010 13:35:58 +0200
> Subject: Fwd: Are Smart Meters Really That Smart?
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org
> To: email@example.com;
> THIS SHOULD HAVE THE ATTACHEMENT
> ———- Forwarded message ———-
> From: Andrew Warren <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Date: 29 September 2010 23:46
> Subject: Are Smart Meters Really That Smart?
> To: dave andrews <email@example.com>
> Dear Dave
> I have pleasure in attaching an article of mine which appears in the
> current issue of “Utility Week”. It concerns the policy to install smart
> meters in every home in Britain , and asks whether these will really befit
> consumers as much as they will benefit energy companies.
> I should be interested to know whether other Clavertonians agree with me.
> Yours sincerely
> Andrew Warren
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